A vegetarian diet can help you lose more weight than any other regular diet, researchers have found.
Following a vegetarian diet led to twice as much weight loss as a regular diet, and helps boost metabolism and reduce hard-to-lose muscle fat. But you’ll want to exercise.
In an experiment to test the optimal weight-loss and fat-reducing diet for diabetics, the researchers assigned 74 people with type 2 diabetes to either a regular or vegetarian diet. The vegetarian diet consisted of vegetables, grains, legumes, fruits, and nuts, with the only animal products coming from a single serving of low-fat yoghurt each day. On this diet, the participants on obtained 60% of their energy from carbohydrates, 15% from protein, and 25% from fat.
The other diet was a conventional anti-diabetic diet formulated according to the dietary guidelines from the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, a nutritional breakdown of 50% of energy from carbohydrates, 20% from protein, and less than 30% from fat. There was also more cholesterol in the conventional diet: 200mg compared to the 100mg in the vegetarian diet.
Participants in both groups had to eat 500 calories less than what was required to maintain their weight. This calorie deficit, known as “calorie restriction”, is a proven technique for weight loss. In the second half of the experiment, the participants also had to exercise for one hour 3 times a week.
Predictably, at the end of the 6-month period, both groups of participants lost weight. But the vegetarian dieters lost an average of 6.2kg while the traditional dieters lost only 3.2kg! And while both groups also lost fat, the participants on the vegetarian diet lost more intramuscular fat, the fat between muscle groups that’s harder to lose. However, the vegetarian dieters also showed greater muscle loss, until the exercise regime was added.
“Vegetarian diets proved to be the most effective diets for weight loss,” lead scientist Dr. Kahleová told The Independent. “However, we also showed that a vegetarian diet is much more effective at reducing muscle fat, thus improving metabolism. This finding is important for people who are trying to lose weight, including those suffering from metabolic syndrome and/or type 2 diabetes. But it is also relevant to anyone who takes their weight management seriously and wants to stay lean and healthy.”